For more than 54 minutes you couldn’t get more solid in the net than Barrington’s goaltender Ryan Evans, as he made save, after stick save, after glove save, but came up just one spectacular stop short in Barrington’s 1-0 loss in the Scholastic Cup.
"It was a good shot that just go by me," Evans said post game. “They out played us, but we were in it for the whole game and either team had a chance to win it in the end.”
Evans was able to fend of St. Viator's flurry of offensive attempts by stopping 36 straight shots on goal and the game remained scoreless through three periods of regulation, followed by one overtime period and the first couple of minutes of the second overtime.
Unfortunately for the Broncos and Evans, it was the 37th attempt that found the back of the net giving the Lions a 1-0 victory over the Broncos during the 39th Chicago Metropolitan High School Hockey League’s Scholastic Cup finals held at host site Northbrook Ice Arena. This was St. Viator's second Scholastic Cup Championship and their first since 1978.
On Sunday, March 6th, Barrington’s defense hit the ice strong hoping their physical play would set the tone early for the match by sparking their offense. The Broncos were also looking to atone for their loss the day before that eliminated them from the state’s toughest hockey tournament showcasing the state's elite talent, the 2011 Blackhawk Cup State Tournament.
Knowing that the quality of talent wouldn't waver much, as many of the teams that qualified for the state tournament play in the four Metro divisions, Barrington's defense stepped up quickly by killing-off all five penalties in the game as Bronco players were finding the penalty box early in the first and second frame. One of Barrington’s five MSL Central All-Stars, Patrick McVickers, racked up six quick minutes in the box (during first and to start the second), but Barrington’s defense held strong during a first period 11-6 disadvantage for shots on goals.
However, the Bronco’s offense was not able to capitalize on their defensive stops as they weren’t getting many chances to test Viator’s goaltender, Robert Schmidt (stopping 23 shots on goals), due to an equally strong Lions’ defense. The Broncos had a two-man advantage during the first period, but Barrington’s rivals from the Metro North were just as stingy with the puck and they were able to kill-off six penalties during the game.
As the two squads skated fiercely to a zero-zero tie through the first two periods, Barrington would come out of intermission and find themselves quickly back in the penalty box as defense-man Nathan Aloisio was cited for hooking. Barrington’s Evans was immediately tested as the puck stayed near the Bronco net and the agile Bronco goalie was forced to stop four shots during the two-minute penalty as Viator would fire off 9 shots early in the period and end the stanza with 12 shots, compared to Barrington’s eight.
After both teams cautiously skated through the first sudden victory overtime period playing mistak- free hockey (a combined three shot attempts during the 7 minute period for both teams), Barrington hoped to take advantage of anything, during the second overtime period, whether it was from a defense-man out of position, a bouncing puck, or just a little old-fashioned luck.
Yet it was the Lions that found that little spark needed. After just a couple of minutes into the second overtime, as St. Viator forward Richard Gattone was able to corral a loose puck near center ice, he found his captain, Christian Divito, racing into the zone. With a crisp pass and a two-on-one advantage heading to the net, Divito was able to slap the shot right past the eagerly waiting Evans for the 1-0 game and Scholastic Cup Championship winning shot.
“Seemed like we weren't really getting any good chances,” Divito said. “Then Ricky [Gattone] gave me that pass and I just hit it as hard as I could and thankfully it went in.”
“It is almost like a movie script,” St. Viator's coach Evan Poulakidas said of the play. “[Divito] is such a great player that has worked so hard, for so long and this is so fitting.”
A devastated and exhausted Evans slumped in the net as the Lions’ fans roared with cheers after the game winning and incredible end to the Hockey season. Evans was quickly consoled by appreciative teammates for an incredible individual effort as the team waited for the second place trophy.
“[Divito] made a terrific shot, and good players make good plays.” Barrington's coach Rob Hutson said. “If you are going to lose it's better it's from a shot like that than something that bounces off a skate.”
Losing the Scholastic Cup was not the way the Broncos had hoped to finish up their season considering that on Saturday March 5th, playing as the ninth seed in the Amateur Hockey Association Illinois' Tournament, Barrington lost 8-3 to number one seeded Fenwick in their quarterfinals match-up.
And it would have been easy for Barrington to simply pack up the gear and call it a season after Saturday’s loss, especially considering the multitude of issues these athletes needed to contend with this year, but that isn't their character.
Barrington endured countless injuries, some season ending (like Metro All-Star forward Zach Dulla in street clothes forced to watch his team battle for the cup from the bench), that would inevitably deplete the bench, causing fatigue as the team navigated towards the end of a very difficult hockey season.
“Anyone can come up with excuses on why they lost, but not these kids,” Hutson said. “They are unbelievable in how they dealt with some real adversity all year and even though they didn't win tonight, it's about the success they will have in life just from this experience.”